Campaign Finance Reform

Big Government, Big Corruption

Here’s one more respect in which the 2008 presidential election failed to offer you a real choice: John McCain and Barack Obama both campaigned on the notion that the root cause of public corruption is political liberty. McCain’s target was the freedom to give money in support of a candidate or cause – a right that he attempted to decapitate with his eponymous campaign finance reform act...[more]

Clergy Stand Up For Free Speech

Across America, Pastors Assert First Amendment Rights Where They May Be Most Precious – In the Pulpit...[more]

Media Bias vs. Money: Which Is the Bigger Problem in Politics?

For years, decades really, the mainstream media have been telling the American people that money is a gargantuan problem in politics. Some politicians (John McCain and Barack Obama spring to mind) have said the same and moved to regulate same, calling their self-protection racket “campaign finance reform” while holding as many fundraisers as can be scheduled...[more]

Old Politics, New Politician

Time and again, we’ve explained why we’re against campaign finance “reform.” Quite simply, not only do such restrictions violate core free speech and association rights, but all too often our elected representatives manipulate campaign finance rules to advantage themselves and disadvantage their opponents...[more]

Barack Obama, Hypocrite

Here at the Center for Individual Freedom, our unwavering opposition to public campaign financing is well-established. Indeed, along with campaign finance reform generally, it is one of the issues that has most animated our organization since its founding. The First Amendment explicitly states that "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech," but campaign-finance laws do precisely that...[more]

Clinton’s Campaign Cash Conundrum

Okay, we admit it -- we think it’s deliciously delightful that so many high profile “reformers” get caught by the campaign finance traps they set for themselves...[more]

Trying Her Best to ‘Save the World’ … Illegally

It might not be as colorful as Alanis Morissette’s “black fly in your chardonnay,” but Nancy Pelosi’s television turn in a climate change advertisement is ironic in so many ways -- not the least of which is that, in the process, the Speaker of the House may have violated the very campaign finance “reform” laws she has long supported...[more]

U.S. Senators Filibuster Their Way to Freer Elections

For years now we've been lamenting the partisan obstruction of President George W. Bush's nominees...[more]

CFIF Prevails Against Pennsylvania's Attempt to Muzzle Our Speech

This morning the Commonwealth Secretary of the state of Pennsylvania and the State Attorney General (AG) filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to stop the Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF) from airing its television ad in Pennsylvania...[more]

Pennsylvania Secretary of State and AG Sue to Chill CFIF's First Amendment Rights, Flouting Federal Court Agreement

On Thursday, November 1, Pedro Cotes, the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, announced that he would seek an injunction in state court to stop the Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF) from running its television ad in Pennsylvania...[more]

A Comedic Campaign Finance Conundrum

Who's afraid of a little comic relief in the 2008 presidential election? Well, the Federal Election Commission should be...[more]

The Tiresome Clinton Time Warp

Between increasingly-frequent campaign fundraising scandals, the resurrection this week of HillaryCare, personal demonization of political enemies and looming tax increases, it's all like a collective nightmare returning to haunt America...[more]

When the Hsu Fits Mrs. Clinton

Clinton scandals are never small and rarely boring, wafting across the land with the frequency of mist upon the South China Sea*...[more]

Hsu, We Hardly Knew You

While most Americans were busy trying to wring the last vestiges of fun from their summer, the Wall Street Journal was beginning enterprising reporting on what appears to be a campaign finance scandal that augers to be no fun at all for the presidential campaign of one Hillary Rodham Clinton...[more]

CFIF Secures Free Speech Victory in Pennsylvania

Lawsuit Clarifies that Enforcement of State Campaign Finance Law Must be Limited to "Express Advocacy," Enabling CFIF and Other Similarly Situated Speakers to Broadcast Independent Issue Ads Close to Elections...[more]

'Center For Individual Freedom Sues to Strike Down Pennsylvania Speech Restriction

The Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF) last week filed a lawsuit to hold unconstitutional a Pennsylvania law that forbids independent issue ads during election periods...[more]

No Reasonable' Chance of Survival for McCain-Feingold

"Enough is enough," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his principal opinion, making it perfectly clear that "when it comes to drawing difficult lines in the area of pure political speech ... we give the benefit of the doubt to speech, not censorship." ...[more]

FreedomCast: Ordinary Citizens are Being Shut Up and Shut Out of the Political Process

Recently, Steve Simpson, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, joined CFIF Corporate Counsel & Senior Vice President Renee Giachino to discuss campaign finance laws versus free speech and the First Amendment...[Read more and listen to the interview here.]

One Small Step for Free Speech, One Giant Leap for Big Media

Don't get us wrong.  By all accounts, last week certainly can be tallied in the win column for those of us who understand that "campaign finance reform" is just a euphemism for restricting political speech at the core of the First Amendment..[more]

Another Irony of Being John McCain

As the once-anointed Republican presidential nominee for 2008, candidate McCain has suffered as irony after irony have all but eliminated his hopes of occupying the Oval Office...[more]

YouTube to the Rescue (for Now)

Millions of "views" have already been logged for the most talked about advertisement yet in the 2008 presidential race...[more]

CFIF Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Preserve the Right of Anonymous Free Speech and Association

Amicus Curiae Brief Urges High Court to Hear and Ultimately Reverse Lower Court Decisions in Rongstad v. Lassa...[more]

Conservatives to McCain: Abandon Plans to Further Muzzle Political Speech!

While Sen. McCain Prepares Legislation Aimed at "527" Organizations, Nearly 20 Advocacy, Legal and Public Policy Organizations Express Opposition...[more]

CFIF Launches McCain '$traight Talk?' Blog

As Senator McCain Seeks to Further Muzzle Political Speech, New Blog Tracks the Presidential Hopeful's Ongoing Refusal to Commit to Speech Limitations He Works to Impose on the American People...[more]

John McCain: Hypocrite-in-Chief?

Will he accept public financing for his presidential campaign or will he just stuff his pockets with "special interest money" like everyone else, him being Mr. Reform and all?...[more]

Senator McCain to Conservatives: SHUT UP!

McCain responds to Questions about Presidential Public Financing by Vowing to Further Muzzle Political Speech. Americans -- Especially Conservatives -- are Still Wondering Whether the Senate's Chief 'Campaign Finance Reformer' Plans to Live by the Same Political Speech Limitations He Seeks to Impose on Everyone Else...[more]


Conservative Group Asks the Senate's Chief 'Campaign Finance Reformer' to Clearly Announce Whether He Plans to Abide by the Limitations of the Presidential Public Financing System...[more]

Congress Seeks to Silence Its Critics, Chill Grassroots Activism

What if "We the People" were severely restricted from becoming informed and speaking out in the legislative process?...[more]

CFIF Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Strike Down Decision Permitting Labor Unions to Spend Non-Member Fees on Unauthorized Political Activities

Friend of the Court Brief Implores High Court to Protect the Free Speech and Association Rights of Non-member, Fees-Paying Workers...[more]

Feingold's Folly - Part II

When their legislation led to the creation and dominance of so-called 527 organizations in federal elections, the two Senators sought to squelch the speech of those organizations and their members, too...[more]

CFIF Urges Supreme Court of North Dakota to Protect Free Speech "Today, with unconstitutional regulations such as McCain/Feingold already stifling Americans' free speech rights during critical election periods, individual states simply have no right to restrict cross-state political speech," said Timothy Lee, the Center's Director of Legal and Public Affairs...[more]

Feingold's Free-Speech Folly

Last week, the Senate fell one vote shy of passing a constitutional amendment that could have led to a ban on desecrating the American flag. Whether such a constitutional amendment is a good or bad approach is not the subject here...[more]

The First Amendment's Glass Half Full

The six justices who voted to strike down the Vermont law could not agree on how far the First Amendment really goes in protecting what has always been the core of its protections -- political free speech...[more]

Free Speech Restored in Louisiana

After nearly two years of litigation, the Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF) won an important free-speech decision last week when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that Louisiana's campaign finance law does not restrict or regulate independent political issue advertising...[more]

McCain Declares War on the Constitution (Again)

After all, just look at the comment that McCain made during an interview just two weeks ago, and consider its implications. McCain's comment reveals his willingness to impose his view of what constitutes "clean government" even though it means setting aside a fundamental right clearly and explicitly defined in the Constitution...[more]

Vermont Is Corrupt:  State Attorney General Says So

Pity poor William H. Sorrell, Attorney General of Vermont.  On February 28, he went before the U.S. Supreme Court.  He said political corruption in Vermont is a serious problem.  Then under tough questioning from Chief Justice John Roberts he said he hadn't prosecuted anyone for it...[more]

The Bipartisan Incumbent Protection Act, Part Two

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) just doesn't get it. Elections are for the voters, not the politicians...[more]

The First Amendment's Lifeline

Is Buckley dead?  That's the question the justices of the Supreme Court of the United States will consider next week...[more]

A Small Step for Political Speech, a Giant Leap for the First Amendment?

If you believe the Supreme Court press corps, then the campaign finance decision handed down this week was a shot across the bow of McCain-Feingold -- a precursor to returning political speech to its most free status...[more]

Internet Free Speech: Simplicity Itself

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives struck yet another blow against the First Amendment by refusing to pass a bill that would clearly protect free speech on the Internet...[more]

Two Seats From Free Speech

Senator Russell Feingold didn’t ask Judge John Roberts any questions about the constitutionality of campaign finance “reform” during his four-day-long confirmation hearing...[more]

The Privileged Press, May We All Enjoy the Freedom

America learned just how privileged the press is after the Federal Election Commission released one of its rulings last week...[more]

CFIF to FEC: Soften Proposed Internet Regulations

The Center for Individual Freedom today urged the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to soften its proposed regulations of political speech on the Internet in order to minimize the new rules’ impact...[more]

CFIF Urges Court to Overturn Louisiana Election Law

The Center for Individual Freedom filed a brief Monday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, urging the court to strike down a Louisiana campaign finance law that regulates independent political speech...[more]

CFIF Tells Congress to Restore Free Speech

In a letter reproduced here, the Center urges Conress to consider and approve H.R. 1316, the “527 Fairness Act of 2005,” so that Americans’ free speech rights can begin to be restored...[more]

Center Supports 'First Amendment Restoriation Act'

The Center for Individual Freedom today announced its support for the First Amendment Restoration Act (H.R. 46), re-introduced by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) for the 109th Congress...[more]

The Return of the Campaign Finance Crusaders

As if the restrictions on political speech in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) — better known as McCain-Feingold — weren’t enough, the “reformers” are at it again...[more]

Report Finds ‘Clear Conflict of Interest’ in CBS-Kerry Campaign Contacts

The news was all bad this week for CBS when an independent panel led by former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh and former Associated Press President Louis Boccardi issued its report about how "60 Minutes" erred so badly in airing a segment attacking President Bush based on memos that were apparently forged...[more]

Blame John McCain for the Campaign Ads

During the course of this rotten-to-the-core campaign year, some phrases have been repeated über ad nauseum. We may not have picked your most detested, but ours is, "Hi, I’m Johnny Scum, and I approved this message."...[more]

CFIF Challenges Louisiana Campaign Finance Laws

The Center for Individual Freedom this week asked a federal district court in Louisiana to strike down the state’s campaign finance laws as an unconstitutional restriction on the rights of free speech and free association...[more]

CFIF Files FEC Complaint Against CBS, Kerry Campaign

The Center for Individual Freedom today filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission charging that CBS and Kerry-Edwards 2004, Inc., illegally coordinated election communications. The complaint charges that CBS and the Kerry campaign violated federal campaign finance laws when they colluded to attack President Bush based on claims and documents now believed to be fake...[more]

Letter to Chairman Robert Ney

The Center offers expert written or witness testimony on BCRA’s catastrophic effects on First Amendment and election law...[more]

Charter Chuck Caught with Public Bucks; Schumer Blames "Accounting Errors"

The Other America is peopled by government officials who have access to their money, money they hondle from contributors dedicated to the furtherance of good government and our money. We learn of the misuse of ours only when someone is caught. So it was that several weeks ago Charles Schumer, the Democrat senior senator from New York, got caught...[more]

Starting the Climb Back up the Slippery Slope

It seems so obvious: "Congress shall make no law … abridging freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the right of the people to peacefully assemble…" According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, "abridge" means "to reduce in scope: diminish." It’s difficult to understand how the authors of the First Amendment could have been more plain...[more]

Center Backs ‘First Amendment Restoration Act’ Urges Congress to Strike Limits on Free Speech

The Center for Individual Freedom today announced its support for H.R.3801, the First Amendment Restoration Act of 2004. The bill, introduced by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), would repeal provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA) which silence interest groups in the days leading up to elections...[more]

Supreme Court: 5-4 for Campaign Finance Reform; Constitution: 0

Shocking. No other word can better describe the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion delivered this week in the long-awaited campaign finance reform case, McConnell v. FEC. Led by the Court’s notorious cowgirl, the nine justices rode off in all directions, leaving a cloud of First Amendment dust behind...[more]

Enacting McCain-Feingold By ‘Buying Time’

As the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court draft the decision that will determine the constitutional fate of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), also known as McCain Feingold, they probably won’t be relying on two studies commissioned and circulated by "reformers" as unbiased scholarly evidence of the law’s constitutionality. Indeed, the rigors of the BCRA litigation have exposed that the two studies – commissioned, conducted, and published by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law (Brennan Center) and submitted to and relied upon by members of Congress when passing BCRA – were little more than misinformation fed to our elected representatives with the goal of enacting McCain-Feingold at any cost...[more]

CFIF Assistant General Counsel Tells University of Virginia Conference That McCain-Feingold, Legal Uncertainty Gags Advocacy Groups

The Assistant General Counsel of the Center for Individual Freedom, Reid Alan Cox, told a conference of academic experts on campaign finance Tuesday that both the actual restrictions contained in and the legal uncertainty surrounding the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, popularly known as McCain-Feingold, have effectively silenced non-profit ideological interest groups since the law went into effect after the last Congressional elections. Cox was one of six panelists invited to discuss the topic of "Coping With BCRA" at the conference entitled "Reconsidering Campaign Finance Reform"...[more]

McCain-Feingold Challengers File Opening Briefs in Supreme Court

The first shots in the High Court battle over the constitutionality of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 were fired Tuesday when attorneys for Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Center for Individual Freedom and the other plaintiffs challenging the law filed their opening briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court...[more]

McCain-Feingold's High Court Opening Act

Back on March 25, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Federal Election Commission v. Beaumont, No. 02-403, High Court watchers and campaign finance wonks took notice not because they thought the decision would dramatically alter the landscape of federal campaign finance law, but because of the much anticipated headline act still waiting in the wings -- namely, the constitutional challenges to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), popularly known as McCain-Feingold...[more]

Three-Judge Panel Blocks Its Own Campaign Finance Ruling, Supreme Court Will Decide McCain-Feingold's Fate

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) is once again the "law of the land" in its entirety thanks to the same federal court that struck down and upheld portions of the law in a ruling that took the three judges four separate opinions and 1575 pages to explain.  The stay issued Monday means that the decision of the three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia will be suspended until the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of McCain-Feingold, likely to be as late as next fall or winter...[more]

High Court Refuses to Block McCain-Feingold Ruling on Issue Ads

The Supreme Court refused to intervene on an emergency basis Tuesday to stay parts of a lower court's ruling upholding federal restrictions on advocacy groups that wish to air political issue advertisements...[more]

The Bijudicial Campaign Reform Act of 2003

Late last Friday, a specially appointed panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued its ruling in the consolidated constitutional challenges brought against the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, popularly known as McCain-Feingold...[more]

A New Ninth Circuit in the New Year?

It appears that the Ninth Circuit's New Year's resolution is to decrease the number of rulings overturned by the United States Supreme Court.  Only two months into the New Year, the traditionally rogue Ninth Circuit has issued two opinions in the campaign finance arena that are remarkably deferential to Supreme Court precedent and leanings...[more]

When Dinner with the Governor Could Be a Felony
McCain-Feingold 101:  (For Those Who Passed It)

It is not uncommon for the U.S. Congress to pass measures that those voting for them have neither read nor understood.  Rarely does that matter much to those doing the passing, since the impact is predominantly on the rest of us.  Besides, all legislation is for our own good, even when we don't comprehend that, and we should just be grateful, shoulder the consequences and accept the wisdom of the ignorant and inept...[more]

CFIF Executive Director to Discuss Campaign Finance "Reform" at 30th Anniversary of CPAC

Center for Individual Freedom Executive Director Eric Schippers will be joining Judge Kenneth Starr of Kirkland & Ellis and election law expert Cleta Mitchell of Foley & Lardner for a panel discussion on the ongoing lawsuit over the McCain-Feingold/Shays-Meehan Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA).  The panel, Campaign Finance Reform: Does the 1st Amendment Mean Anything, will be featured at the 30th anniversary of CPAC on Saturday, February 1 at 11:00 a.m. at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia.  The discussion will be moderated by Southeastern Legal Foundation President Phil Kent...[more]

FEC to Investigate Ms. PAC-Man

San Francisco Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi doled out wads of cash to her Democratic colleagues in the months leading up to the November 5 mid-term elections.  She raised and distributed more money than any other member in the U.S. House of Representatives.  In fact, her prolific fundraising may well have earned Pelosi the overwhelming support in her caucus to replace Dick Gephardt as House Minority Leader — despite being labeled "out-of-touch" with mainstream America by many in her own party...[more]

Center Urges Landrieu to Stand by Her Distorted Principles on Campaign Finance "Reform"

Two days after the mid-term elections, the Center for Individual Freedom sent a letter to Senator Mary Landrieu urging her to stand by her commitment to campaign finance "reform" during her Louisiana run-off election against Suzanne Terrell.  The Center is a named plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, as we seek to restore the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans to engage in the political process that Landrieu and many of her colleagues so willingly stripped away.

"As a matter of your own, albeit distorted, principles on campaign finance, it would behoove you to reject all soft money donations during the run-off and campaign within the bounds of BCRA.  You voted for it; live by it. . ."...[more]

BCRA and the Hollywood Loophole

The media stands to gain enormous power in the political process should BCRA be upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, as they’re exempt. That much is clear to everyone following this issue, especially the editorial page editors of nearly every major newspaper in the country. However, what’s not being discussed, much to the delight of "reformers," is what appears to be an exemption for Hollywood...[more]

Following the Bouncing (and Deflating) Ball
in the Discovery Phase of Campaign Finance Litigation

You need look no further than the federal lawsuit challenging the new campaign finance law for an example of a plaintiff –the party seeking redress – being victimized over and over again by the very litigation process that is the only avenue for plaintiff relief. That case (in which the Center for Individual Freedom is a plaintiff) exemplifies the growing and disturbing trend in litigation of parties imposing burdensome and absurd discovery requests, all in an effort to harass the other parties and pervert the issues.....[more]

Big Win for the Little Guys: Federal Court Rules Irvine’s Campaign Finance Restrictions Unconstitutional

Time and again we read about the little guy who took on city hall and lost. Not this time...[more]

Healthy Campaigns, Democracy Are Compatible

By Senator Mitch McConnell:
(Reprinted with permission from The Hill) As the outrage lobby,a.k.a the campaign finance reform industry, continues its hype and hyperbole, I am reminded of that infamous quote from the House Democratic leader, Dick Gephardt (Mo.), on this very issue: "What we have is two important values in direct conflict: freedom of speech and our desire for healthy campaigns in a healthy democracy...[more]

"Let’s Get Ready to Rumble. . ."

Not since Muhammad Ali and "Smokin’ Joe" Frazier fought the Thrilla in Manila more than 25 years ago has there been so much buzz. Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call called it a modern-day "Clash of the Titans" — the "Thrilla in the LBJ Room."

The event: A shouting match between two Democratic heavyweights in the U.S. Senate — Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Russ Feingold (D-WI). The setting: A Democratic Policy Committee luncheon. The issue: Implementation of Feingold’s Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act (BCRA) and its impact on Senate Democrats...[more]

John McCain Strikes Again
Who in the World is Ellen Weintraub?

President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees face yet another hurdle in the U.S. Senate — Senator John McCain. The Arizona Republican has placed a hold on all nominations pending before the Senate, including 17 judicial nominees. And the "maverick" senator is vowing to prevent any action on their confirmations until the president assures him that Ellen Weintraub will receive a recess appointment to a seat on the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) during Congress’ upcoming August break...[more]

CIF Among Two Dozen Groups and Individuals to Join McConnell Legal Challenge to "Campaign Finance Reform"

At a Capitol Hill press conference on April 10, CIF joined two dozen organizations and individuals from across the political spectrum to announce their participation as plaintiffs in Senator Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) legal challenge (McConnell v. FEC) to the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act...[more]

Challenges to State Campaign Finance Laws Heat Up

With lawsuits over federal campaign finance legislation brewing, suits involving state campaign laws are boiling over, with two recent decisions being handed down, one involving a Massachusetts law and the other a Mississippi statute...[more]

Center for Individual Freedom to Join Lawsuit
Challenging Constitutionality of "Campaign Finance Reform" Law

On March 27, 2002, President George W. Bush – privately, without ceremony or even a publicly released photograph – signed into law the bill commonly referred to as "campaign finance reform"– the most extensive and insidious assault on political speech ever ventured in the U.S...{more]

Congress Passes "Campaign Finance Reform"

The Senate this week voted 60-40 to approve the House-passed Shays-Meehan campaign finance "reform" bill. It did so without having to pull out the cots Majority Leader Daschle conveniently arranged to have on hand for threatened all-night sessions. Nor did the Senate mirror the long and drawn-out House debate. In the end, thanks in large part to the editorial support of major media, which are exempt, Shays-Meehan passed the Senate with relative ease, as opponents shifted their energy to prepare for the court battle. Shortly after the vote, President Bush released a statement saying he would sign the measure into law, despite "legitimate Constitutional questions."

The Center has long held that Shays-Meehan and its Senate counterpart, McCain-Feingold, represent an egregious assault on the First Amendment; this issue will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. As Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said so eloquently, we are "consoled by the obvious fact that the courts do not defer to Congress on matters of the Constitution."

Center Joins Over 50 Organizations in Urging Senate to Vote No on Shays-Meehan

On February 28, 2002, the Center joined over 50 organizations in an effort to stop so-called campaign finance "reform" by signing a letter sent to every member of the U.S. Senate. The letter urged Senators to vote "no" on the Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill now before them. According to the letter, "The bill you will be voting on redefines political speech and outlaws or criminalizes speech that every American has always thought protected by the First Amendment to our Constitution. … By voting NO, you will take the side of freedom and honor your oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution."

To read the letter click here.

"Campaign Finance Reform"

Virtually everyone in and around politics has had something to say about so-called "campaign finance reform," including us. It is now here, in the Lewis Carroll reality of Shays-Meehan, the bill passed by the House of Representatives...[more]

Every citizen who cares anything at all about the Constitution and participation in the political process should read it.

Come One, Come All!
The Shays-Meehan "Campaign Finance Reform" Debate Circus

Step right up to view the GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH.
On February 13-14, the U.S. House of Representatives debated and voted to approve so-called "campaign finance reform." It’s AMAZING. It’s SHOCKING. It’s HORRIFYING. Take a look inside to see the circus for yourself — "In their own words..."

"Campaign Finance Reform" Passes

In the wee hours of the morning on February 14, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Reps. Christopher Shays’ (R — CT) and Marty Meehan’s (D — MA) so-called "campaign finance reform" legislation (HR 2356). After more than 16 hours of debate and several attempts by opponents to protect the First Amendment rights of Americans to engage in political speech, the measure passed by a vote of 240 -189.

Click here for the roll call vote, which provides the names of the 240 Congressmen who voted for Shays-Meehan, and against the Constitution.

"Campaign Finance Reform" Vote Set

The U.S. House of Representatives has set a vote on so-called "Campaign Finance Reform," aka Shays-Meehan, for Wednesday, February 14. Debate, which will undoubtedly actuate one of the great political posture festivals of the season, will be on Tuesday...[more]

Campaign Finance Reform to Get a Vote in the House

Sparked in part by the Enron debacle, supporters of the Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill (H.R. 2356) yesterday gained enough support to bring the measure to a vote on the House floor...[more]

Capitol Hill Agenda Significantly Altered in Wake of 9-11 Terrorist Attacks

In a contentious effort by all members of Congress to set aside issues that have been the subject of fierce partisan debates this year, the drive to force a House vote on campaign finance reform legislation has, for now, come to a halt. [more]

CFR Discharge Petition

The odds are against Shays-Meehan. According to an August 6 report by the Congressional Research Service, of the 551 discharge petitions that have been filed since 1931, only 46 have obtained the required signatures and only two have led to a change in law. Let’s hope history holds true, and Representative Shays and Meehan’s blatant attack on the Constitution meets its demise in the 107th Congress...[more]

Campaign Finance Reform
Finis for Now

So-called campaign finance reform is gone for now, except for the shouting, the recriminations, the jockeying for position–the 10-cent public dance of the dwarves that denigrates most who participate... [more]

Campaign Finance and the First Amendment

By Erik S. Jaffe: McCain-Feingold represents a frontal assault on a variety of First Amendment principles, some, but not all, discussed in this paper. Because Buckley and its progeny are under attack from both supporters and opponents of campaign finance restrictions, and because the Supreme Court may well move in a new direction when next called to confront these issues, anyone concerned with individual freedom must consider the First Amendment issues from the perspective of first principles…[more]

Update: Erik Jaffe, author of Campaign Finance and the First Amendment, recently participated in a live online chat on on the subject of campaign finance reform. To read a copy of the archived transcript, please click here.

Federal Judge Strikes Down Alaska's "Soft Money" Ban

U.S. District Judge James Singleton on June 11 struck down a section of Alaska's political contributions law that banned corporate and union contributions to political parties ("soft money contributions"). Finding the ban violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Judge Singleton ruled that corporations and unions can give unlimited amounts of "soft money" to political parties, as long as none of the money goes towards getting specific candidates elected.

According to Judge Singleton, contributions to a political party do not raise undue influence issues. However, the judge let stand Alaska's ban against corporate contributions to individual candidates.

This decision reverses in part an April 10th opinion from this judge, wherein he found it constitutional to ban corporate contributions. There was no indication why he changed his mind.

The assistant attorney general indicated that the state would appeal the decision.

To read the decision, click on:

Supreme Court Rejects First Amendment Challenge to Party Spending Limits

In a very close decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to uphold party limits on coordinated expenditures. The Court found that limiting coordinated spending by a party does not impose a unique First Amendment burden on parties and that coordinated expenditures of unlimited money donated to a party dilute and therefore undermine the contribution limits[more]

McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Bill (S. 27)


House Speaker Sets Date for Floor Debate On Campaign Finance Reform

In a May 16 letter to Representative Christopher Shays (R-Connecticut), House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) announced his intent to bring campaign finance reform legislation to the House floor in early July.

Despite action by several proponents of the legislation to bring the matter up sooner, Hastert wrote, "Campaign Finance Reform is a very serious matter that deserves careful consideration by House Committees." After noting that the House Administration Committee began hearings immediately following the Senate’s passage of McCain-Feingold, the Speaker indicated that the early July timetable is based on committee plans to finish action on the matter by the end of June.

The House is in recess for Independence Day from July 1- July 8. Expect floor action on campaign finance reform legislation during the week beginning July 9.

Previously Posted:

On April 2, the Senate voted 59-41 to approve S.27. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is sure to be altered by members on both sides of the aisle. S. 27 will then be ironed out in a conference committee before it reaches President Bush's desk.

President Bush still has not indicated whether he would sign the McCain-Feingold bill, although, the version that passed the Senate ignores many of the principles outlined by the White House last month.

Key provisions: Would ban soft money contributions, increase yearly individual hard money contribution limits, increase reporting and disclosure requirements for organizations and businesses that sponsor broadcast ads or other election communications.

President Bush Releases His Statement of Principles

In a letter to Majority Leader Trent Lott, Bush outlined key principles that he considers the framework to "responsible campaign finance reforms...[more]

Congressional Research Service Report on Campaign Finance Reform, Updated April 6th 2001

The Congressional Research Service is the independent research arm of the Library of Congress. The report gives a broad overview of the history of Campaign Finance Reform in the United States...[more]

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